When’s the last time you drew something? Or went dancing? Or made a collage?
What favorite hobby is boxed up in your closet, untouched since your last move?
Adult life can be a creativity killer, as we rush from workout to commute to job to meeting to commute to cooking dinner to bed. With deadlines, bills, and crises rushing at us constantly, it’s tough to find time for those creative pursuits that used to make us so happy.
Taking time for creativity and play not only gives us a chance to be fully engaged in the present, it’s also vital to our health, and to our ability to solve problems throughout the day.
But how do you make time for creativity?
1. Change up your routine
If you’re out for a run, take the street one block over to see what you find. Turn right instead of left when you get off the subway. Drive or bike the back way to work. As you move throughout your day, look for opportunities to change up your daily routine – this will help you break past the calcified habits that get in the way of having a creative mindset.
- Morning: Swap out scrolling through the news for doing something inspires you – like writing in a journal, or sketching.
- Lunch: Change up your scenery and give your mind a break! Go for a walk with a picnic lunch, or visit a museum or a garden. Take some time for solitude, and you’ll come back refreshed and ready to tackle the rest of your day.
- Waiting times: Rather than flipping through Facebook or Twitter on your phone, use an app like Instapaper to save interesting articles to read later. That way at the end of a few breaks in the day, you’ll have read a short story rather than just gotten caught up on Facebook.
- Evening: Swap out the television for a creative project – or, find something creative you can do while watching TV, like knitting or tying flies.
2. Be spontaneous
Say “yes” to something unexpected at least once every day. Accept an unlikely invitation. Buy that weird-shaped fruit in the grocery store. Talk to a stranger on the bus. A fun way to do this is to get your family or friends involved by taking turns picking a new spot to explore, or an exotic ingredient to build a dinner around.
3. Gather inspiration
Remember to regularly refill your creativity wells by seeking out examples of others’ creativity. If you like to paint, visit museums. If you like to garden, go to a home and garden show.
Use Pinterest, Evernote, or even just a digital or physical folder to keep track of everything that inspires you – pictures, creative tutorials, quotes and anything else that might give you a boost. Just be careful not to use “gathering inspiration” as an excuse to put off your own creative pursuits.
4. Protect your creative peak
Is your peak creative time first thing in the morning, just after lunch, or after the kids go to bed? Guarding those times jealously is the first step to being creative on a daily basis. I know that if I put of creative writing until after I’ve met all my client deadlines for the day, I’ll be too exhausted to be coherent. Instead, I try to structure my day so that I never have anything pressing due first thing in the morning. That means I can exercise my creativity for myself before my daily supplies have been drained.
5. Take a class
I have an artist friend who’s one of the most creative, joyful people I know. She paints. She sews. She dances. She goes paddle boarding. She’s learning to unicycle. She’s not content with picking one creative pursuit – she constantly challenges herself by taking classes on topics that interest her, exercising both her mind and body while getting her creative fix.
If you’re feeling stuck creatively, try browsing through the adult education brochure from your local college, scanning Meetup.org, or even taking an online class on something you’ve never done.
6. Give yourself time to daydream
Down time is essential for our brains to process complex problems – but so many of us are racing through life without giving ourselves the chance to take a breath. I’m very, very guilty of this! What this leads to is a sense of blurred exhaustion, and it decreases our mind’s ability to focus for long periods of time.
Try to build in daydreaming time to your day. Stare out the window during your bus commute, go for a walk, or visit a park and simply sit and let your mind wander. I bet you’ll be surprised at how knotty problems tend to unwind when you do.
Here’s a psychological experiment: try parking in a different space at the office! Even one space over. It is amazing the ruts we put ourselves in. Everyone mindlessly pulls in to the same exact same spot each day – talk about killing your creativity first thing in the morning! I’m lucky enough to work in an office with a large parking lot — so I park farther out, and change up the space I park in each day. the added benefit is the little bit of extra exercise I get waking in – and I can notice the grass and the sky a little bit more before sitting in front of my computer all day!